Mediating Arctic Geographies: Contemporary Imaginaries of the Circumpolar World (Inari, Finland, NEW DATES: 24-26 January 2022)

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Tampere University
contact email: 

Since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the Arctic (understood here as the circumpolar region around and north of the Arctic Circle) has entered worldwide public discussion to an unprecedented extent. As a global climate archive and the site of various scrambles for resources, it has become the centre of attention within debates on climate change and global geopolitics. The international stir created by the planting of a Russian flag under the Arctic sea ice in 2007 and a Chinese flag at the North Pole in 2012, the politicisation of the recovery of the two shipwrecks from John Franklin’s disastrous 1845 expedition in 2014 and 2016, and Donald Trump’s controversial overturning of Barack Obama’s ban on oil drilling in the Arctic are spectacular examples of this new hypervisibility of the Arctic in international politics and global media.

In parallel to this, the last twenty years have seen a drastic increase in fictional and artistic representations of the Arctic. Examples include the ongoing Finnish/German TV series Arctic Circle (2018-), Sarah Moss’s novel Cold Earth (2009), and the Australian/Canadian disaster film Arctic Blast (2010). Closely related to these narratives set in the Arctic are works that strongly evoke Arctic or polar environments, such as the Korean thriller Snowpiercer (2013), which takes place on a frozen Earth, or the German/Canadian coproduction Ice Planet (2001). Indigenous authors, filmmakers, and artists have also increasingly offered inside mediations of the Arctic that are often very different (and sometimes directly challenge) “Southern” depictions of Arctic geography. They have been highly significant in the context of Indigenous rights and independence movements and played an important role in creating and strengthening circumpolar links and networks. Ranging from literature (e.g. Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth, 2018) and film (e.g Greenlandic director Pipaluk Kreutzmann Jørgensen’s Anori, 2018) to hip hop (e.g. Priscilla Naunġaġiaq Hensley and David Holthouse’s documentary film WE UP: Indigenous Hip Hop from the Circumpolar North, 2017) and comics (e.g. the Arctic stories in Moonshot, 2016/2020), these works often turn to the land, the water, and the air as they revive, reinvent, and remediating Indigenous storytelling traditions and ancestral knowledge.

Organised by the members and collaborators of the Mediated Arctic Geographies project, which is based at Tampere University and funded by the Academy of Finland, this international conference responds to the recent global interest in the Arctic. How geography is mediated and imagined matters profoundly: there is a world of difference between the figuration of ice as a sublime backdrop in Jeff Orlowski’s climate change documentary Chasing Ice (2011) and the presentation of ice and snow as a life-sustaining sphere in Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s The Right to Be Cold (2015). We invite reflections on the role of art and the imagination in shaping, transforming, and contesting ideas about geography, and on the social, political, and environmental consequences of these mediations. In line with the interdisciplinary and collaborative spirit of the Mediated Arctic Geographies project, we welcome contributions from a range of fields and disciplines, collaborative presentations, as well as creative presentations at the intersection of art and research. Proposals for pre-formed panels are also welcome. 



Jen Rose Smith (Assistant Professor of Geography and American Indian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Harald Gaski (Professor in Sámi Culture and Literature, UiT The Arctic University of Norway)

Liisa Holmberg (Film Commissioner, International Sámi Film Institute)


In accordance with the general aims of the conference, we invite submissions for 20-minute presentations that may relate to (but need not be limited to) the following areas:

  • Contemporary Arctic imaginaries and narratives

  • Circumpolar connections in culture and art

  • Arctic cinema and visual culture

  • The poetics of snow and ice

  • Imaginative cartographies of the Arctic

  • Specific geospheres (e.g. rivers, coastlines…) in fiction and art

  • Indigenous figurations of geography in the circumpolar world

  • Literary and cultural geographies of the Arctic

  • Territorial vs. non-territorial geographical imaginaries

  • Arctic remediations of oral culture and storytelling in new media

  • Western/Southern vs. Indigenous figurations of Arctic geography

  • Contemporary transformations of historical mediations of the Arctic

  • Different concepts of geography and space in an Arctic context

  • The role of the land in Indigenous Arctic literature and artistic practice

  • Neocolonial imaginaries of the Arctic

  • Postcolonial and decolonial Arctic imaginaries

  • Planetarity and circumpolarity


We are hoping to organise the conference as a (predominantly) live event. Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, however, we will reassess the situation on an ongoing basis, and various hybrid models are possible. We will keep you updated on the conference website.


The conference fee is 100 Euros and includes coffee breaks as well as lunches. A reduced conference fee will apply for remote participants.


Please send an abstract of 200-300 words and a short biographical note (no more than 100 words) to Johannes Riquet ( in a single Word file. 


Submitters will be notified of acceptance or rejection by 8 September 2021.


Prof. Johannes Riquet

and the Mediated Arctic Geographies team

Tampere University